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What Joss Whedon Didn’t Like About ‘The Empire Strikes Back’
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The Empire Strikes Back

The Avengers director Joss Whedon had a lengthy chat with Entertainment Weekly recently, and among the many things that they discussed, the topic of Star Wars sequel The Empire Strikes Back came up.

But instead of talking about how awesome Empire is, Whedon actually talked about what he disliked about the movie—and as an extension, all movies that do something similar.

Continue reading to see what he had to say.

When asked about the movie, Whedon said:

“Empire committed the cardinal sin of not actually ending. Which at the time I was appalled by and I still think it was a terrible idea.”

When asked more specifically if he thought The Empire Strikes Back had a bad ending, he explained:

“Well, it’s not an ending. It’s a Come Back Next Week, or in three years. And that upsets me. I go to movies expecting to have a whole experience. If I want a movie that doesn’t end I’ll go to a French movie. That’s a betrayal of trust to me. A movie has to be complete within itself, it can’t just build off the first one or play variations.”

Think what you will about this particular Star Wars opinion, but as a whole opinion, I could not agree more and I’m glad someone of Whedon’s status came out and said it.

Movies with no endings or movies that leave many more questions than answers absolutely infuriate me as a viewer for these exact reasons. I go into a movie to be told a story, not to be told most of a story and then have to interpret it my own way. Some folks dig that, and that’s fine, but if I could come up with the best possible ending for someone else’s story, I’d just make my own movies.

It’s even worse when a movie is really good, too. Bad movies are bad, and a crappy ending won’t matter much. But when a movie is really great and you’re left extremely unsatisfied, it’s a power shot to the gut. Movies like The Grey jump to mind, and the Coen Brothers have been known to do this a time or two.

The Empire Strikes Back is a little different for me because, obviously, it’s not the end. There’s more story after that. For someone seeing it in theaters and having to wait that long like Whedon, I get it, but now you can just pop in Return of the Jedi and keep the party going.

And just so it’s clear, Whedon does not dislike Empire. He considers it one of the sequels that “got it right” along with movies like The Godfather Part II. This is just an ending issue.

What are your thoughts? Do you like movies leaving you hanging or leaving some questions unanswered, or do you need to be told the full story you went in expecting to be told?

[Source: EW]


  1. It would infuriate me if it wasn’t the best Star War film that the have made.

    Explaining everything can also be a insult to the audiences intelligence.

    Comment by Midas68 — August 22, 2013 @ 10:01 pm

  2. understandable if it was a stand alone movie but Lucas at that point was going to make a trilogy…that was the hook to get people excited for Return of the Jedi.

    Comment by matt — August 22, 2013 @ 10:25 pm

  3. At the time, it was just part of the ride for me. It’s part of the pulp serial influence on Lucas. Being able to debate on the playground for 3 years whether Vader really was Luke’s father, priceless.

    Comment by Dex — August 23, 2013 @ 9:06 am

  4. It was the cinematic cliffhanger equivalent to TV’s “Who shot J.R.?” Brilliant. Terrible when other movies make a weak attempt to do it, but Empire Strikes Back worked.

    Comment by Nick Leshi — August 23, 2013 @ 10:44 am

  5. And of course when we did come back in 1983, it wasn’t really worth it.

    Comment by Sparky_The_Bard-barian — August 23, 2013 @ 2:33 pm

  6. Empire Strikes Back may be the exception to this rule. Otherwise, Joss is completely right on with his feelings on this.

    Comment by Micah Thomas — August 23, 2013 @ 5:25 pm

  7. I’ve always kind of felt this way but it didn’t bother me that much since Return of the Jedi already existed when I first watched them all.

    Comment by demonstrable — August 23, 2013 @ 7:48 pm

  8. Joss ought to look closer at what the story of Empire actually is about. Empire is as much Luke’s story as it is Anakin’s … as they are both driven to confront one another early in the film. Anakin by the Emperor, Luke indirectly by Obi-Wan and Yoda. That’s the textbook “call to adventure”. By the end, not only do they both accomplish that, but they learn something new as a result and take that with them, changing everything.
    While the movie does leave many open threads, the core story involving the main characters’ story goals were reached. The reason it MUST end open ended is because Luke should have waited to confront him until he was ready. But he’s a flawed character who didn’t — part of what makes this movie so great.

    By Joss’ same logic, Frodo should have destroyed the ring in Fellowship.

    Comment by Duze — August 23, 2013 @ 7:59 pm

  9. A stupid complaint by a good but overrated nerd writer.

    I guess he had an issue with the first Lodr of the Rings movies, the first Hobbit movie, the first Kill Bill movie, and all of the Harry Potter movies except the last one. Also, he broke his own rule with that Thanos teaser at the end of The Avengers.

    Nothing to see here, move along.

    Comment by Vital Information — August 28, 2013 @ 7:45 pm

  10. And no one thought to remind him of exactly how his Buffy spin-off Angel ended, or rather, didn’t end? The remaining heroes standing in the rain in an alley, about to face off against a vast demon army, wounded and vastly outnumbered, and then, fade to black, roll credits? The story was continued in comic form later, but that was it for its television incarnation. Or perhaps he meant that the “there has to be an ending” preference only applies to big screen fare?

    Comment by Bob James — September 6, 2013 @ 1:03 am

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